Dreading A Dental Visit? Five Tips For Getting The Most Out It

Many people would just as soon avoid scheduling a dental appointment, unless an unbearable toothache lands them reluctantly in the dentist’s chair.

Fear of pain is one reason for procrastination, but it’s not the only factor. People worry a routine checkup could reveal the need for expensive, major work. Wary patients also sometimes harbor doubts about whether a costly procedure is even necessary.

But patients can put themselves at ease and get the most out of their dental visit by fully vetting their dentist and learning how to weigh options, says Dr. Rick Mars (www.dentalcaregroup.net), author of The Big Smile: The Principles of Modern Dentistry – for Dentists and Patients.

“Many dentists don’t do a good job of educating their patients and communicating with them,” Dr. Mars says, “and most patients don’t do a good enough job educating themselves. We have a saying in dentistry that if you put 10 dentists in a room with a single patient, they will come up with 10 different treatment plans.

“But the great thing about dentistry is the multitude of creative solutions available to patients. You need to ask the right questions to make sure you understand the treatment options.”

Dr. Mars offers these tips for finding the right dental treatment at a fair price:

Educate yourself and listen when your dentist educates. “The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t get the treatment you need and something disastrous happens,” Dr. Mars says. “The second worst thing that can happen is that you do get treatment, but you didn’t actually need it. Taking an active role means you not only do your own research and get a second opinion, but you also listen carefully to your doctor when your doctor educates you.”

Read online reviews with a critical eye. “The internet can be very helpful when you’re vetting a new dentist, but there’s also a lot of misinformation out there with patients’ reviews,” Dr. Mars says. “In today’s world, patients wield power like they never previously had. In general, people who bother to write reviews are disgruntled and want recourse and even revenge. On the other hand, numerous positive reviews, ideally from people you know who were treated by that dentist, can add up to a trustworthy referral.”

Interview your dentist and their team. “You can ask them how many times they’ve done a certain procedure and even ask to see photos of their cases,” Dr. Mars says. “It may require a specialist rather than a general dentist. And find out why they charge what they charge.”

Get an honest second opinion. “Even though you trust your dentist, you might hear a treatment plan that just doesn’t sit well with you,” Dr. Mars says. “Get a copy of your radiographs from your current dentist to take to your second-opinion dentist. Never show the second dentist your treatment plan until they give their final suggestions.”

Ask to see the results of your dental investment. “Rather than limit your evaluation of your dentist to time, cost, or customer service, think about your dental work like you consider mechanical work to your car,” Dr. Mars says. “After treatment, dentists can and should show you radiographs of your teeth and point out the details proving your problem is fixed.”

“If you’ve done your homework,” Dr. Mars says, “your dentist, whether a general practitioner or a specialist, should leave no room for doubt that you’re in the right place.”

Dr. Rick Mars is a general dentist and the author of The Big Smile: The Principles of Modern Dentistry – for Dentists and Patients. Dr. Mars has practiced patient-centered dentistry in the Miami area for over 25 years. For more information, visit: www.dentalcaregroup.net.

Five Ways Neglecting Your Teeth Can Cost You In Money And In Health

Here is a hard fact to chew on: Adults between the ages of 20 and 64 average losing about seven permanent teeth, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR).

Lost teeth are just one of the many costs that can be incurred by neglecting your oral health. Dental professionals say a lack of preventative care by patients is often at the root of dental problems; only 37 percent of adults participating in the NIDCR survey reported visiting a dentist in the previous year.

“You can eliminate a lot of pain by being proactive about your dental health,” said Dr. Ramón Durán (www.drramonduran.com), a dentist in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and author of Your Best Smile … For a Lifetime: Achieving Your Optimal Oral Health. “Taking preventative measures is vital if you want to save money and, more importantly, save your teeth and stay healthy.”

There are many signs you need to see your dentist, yet often people ignore oral issues until the pain forces them into action.

“By then, the conditions have likely progressed to the point where more involved and expensive treatments are necessary,” Dr. Durán said. “Along with the many dental-related problems, there are serious diseases and health complications that are linked to poor dental health.”

Dr. Durán lists five ways neglecting your oral health can cost you – not just in money but also in medical issues:

•Implants. These are the expensive replacements for those teeth you lost. They can run anywhere from $1,500 to $6,000 for a single tooth. Durán links implants with what he calls “opportunity costs” – the choice one relinquishes when making a poor dental health decision. “Deciding not to brush at least twice a day and floss, opting for sugary foods and snacks, not visiting your dentist twice a year – all are opportunity costs,” Durán says. “Your mouth is a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, and if neglected, one the most direct results is tooth loss.”

•Jobs. Yes, yellowed, missing or crooked teeth can cost you a job. An American Dental Association survey found young adults and low-income adults agreed that the appearance of their mouth affected their ability to interview. One reason: They were too embarrassed to smile. “Like it or not, we’re often judged by our appearance,” Durán says. “We often associate a person’s oral health with some of the social biases we have.”

•Diabetes. The National Institute of Health’s report “Oral Health in America” links periodontitis to diabetes. Periodontitis is the inflammation of the tissue around the teeth, often causing shrinkage of the gums and loosening of the teeth. “Reports have suggested it’s a two-way street for these diseases,” Durán says. “Periodontal disease may have a negative impact on glycemic control.”

•Heart disease and stroke. “Certain bacteria that thrive in dental infections are being identified as potentially linked to heart disease,” Durán says. “Bacteria or viruses in the mouth can get directly into the bloodstream, with the possibility of causing blood clots and narrowing of the arteries.”

•COPD. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, caused by chronic bronchitis, recurrent respiratory infection or emphysema, has been associated with periodontal disease. “This can happen due to bacterial pneumonia living in the mouth and making its way to the airway,” Durán says. “The cost of choosing not to take proper care of your teeth and gums is greater than many people imagine,” Durán asks. “It could be the cost of an implant, dentures, your overall health – and even your life.”

Dr. Ramón Durán, DMD is a dentist based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with a practice focused on cosmetic and implant dentistry. He is a public speaker and author of Your Best Smile … For a Lifetime: Achieving Your Optimal Health. For more information, visit: www.drramonduran.com

Three Steps Can Help You Prepare When Retirement Is Just Around The Corner

If looking ahead to retirement makes you a little nervous, you’re not alone. Nearly half of Americans (46 percent) who haven’t reached retirement predict that they won’t be financially comfortable once they get there, according to a Gallup survey.

For some, those potentially uncomfortable retirement years are decades away. But for the Baby Boom generation, retirement either already arrived or will in the next decade or so, prompting many Boomers to wonder whether they are prepared for their looming date with destiny. And that raises a question: Just what does it take to be prepared?

“Many Baby Boomers measure their preparedness in terms of assets,” says Ryan Eaglin, founder and chief advisor of America’s Annuity (www.americasannuity.com). “They’re trying to hit a certain number or account balance. Asset accumulation is an important part of retirement planning, but it’s not the only component. There are a few other steps you need to take to make sure you’re ready to leave work behind and enjoy a stable and comfortable retirement.”

Eaglin suggests three planning steps that can help Baby Boomers or anyone else, be better prepared for retirement:

•Prepare not just one, but two budgets. Most Americans don’t use a budget, even though it’s a handy tool— especially in retirement. “It helps you see where you’re spending your money, how much money you can afford to spend and what adjustment you should make,” Eaglin said. He recommends creating two budgets. One would be for your remaining years before retirement so you can look for ways to cut spending and save more. The other would be for after you retire. “Think of ways to live the retirement you’ve dreamed of while also staying within you income,” Eaglin says. “It may be difficult but just the act of preparing a budget can help you get a better understanding of your financial situation.”

•Project your income. While your budget will help you understand how you are spending your money, you also need to have a good grip on what your potential retirement income will be. For most people, that’s a combination of Social Security, personal savings and possibly employer pensions. Social Security has an income estimator tool on its website, and an employer should be able to provide a pension-benefit projection. “Your financial professional should be able to help you project how much you should be able to take from your savings each year,” Eaglin says. Once you compare your projected income to your spending budget, he says, you’ll know whether you need to save more or rethink retirement spending. You also might want to look for ways to increase your guaranteed income, such as through an annuity, he says.

•Plan for long-term care. As much as people don’t want to hear this, the average 65-year-old has a 70 percent chance of needing long-term care in retirement, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “That means it’s very possible you or your spouse may need care either in your home or in a facility at some point,” Eaglin says. “That care can be expensive. Unfortunately, it’s usually not covered by Medicare, and it’s covered by Medicaid only after you’ve depleted much of your assets.”

“If all this tells you that you’re behind on where you want to be with preparation and your savings, the good news is it’s never too late to get started,” Eaglin says. “You may have to adjust your plans, but with focus and discipline, you can still put yourself in a position to have a comfortable and enjoyable retirement.”

Ryan Eaglin is the founder and chief advisor at America’s Annuity He has 14 years’ experience in the retirement and lifestyle, planning field. For more information, visit: www.americasannuity.com

Is Your Business Prepared And Protected For Hurricane Season?

Hurricane season arrived on June 1, but the busiest period is fast approaching— typically mid-August to mid-September generates the most hurricanes in the United States. Home homeowners are already pricing generators, restocking hurricane supplies and getting ready for Mother Nature’s annual visits.

However, what about businesses? What should they do to prepare for hurricane season or for any disaster that could strike and potentially upend the business?

Peter J. Strauss, a captive insurance manager and author of the book The Business Owner’s Definitive Guide to Captive Insurance Companies (www.peterjstrauss.com), says the time is now for businesses to prepare.

“A remarkable number of business owners will spend a lot of time preparing their homes, but very little time preparing their businesses,” Strauss said. “Once a storm is on the radar, there is barely time to prepare your home, let alone your business.”

Experts from Colorado State University— regarded as the nation’s top seasonal hurricane forecasters— recently predicted 2018 will have seven hurricanes among 14 named tropical storms. Both numbers are above the average of six and 12, respectively.

Strauss says some preparations a business needs to take include:

•Survey its staff members to determine what their needs will be during a storm and what they will need in order to return to work once the storm passes. The staff is the company’s biggest resource, so this should be a priority.

•Start stockpiling water now if you have some extra space in your business. In an emergency, the first thing most retail stores run out of is bottled water. Also stockpile canned goods and extra food items that can remain fresh for your employees.

•Take stock of all your software, hardware and data and arrange for duplication and off-site storage if necessary.

•Purchase a generator and make other precautions for the inevitable disruption of power that will happen during the storm. Come up with an alternate plan of how you will be able to continue to service customers if there is a prolonged outage of power or if there is structural damage to your place of business.

•Call your insurance agent and review your policy to make sure you have all the coverage you need. Also, videotape and photograph everything in your business and store for insurance purposes.

Strauss stresses that procrastination is not your friend when it comes to hurricanes.

“Once a storm is approaching, everything moves twice as fast as you think it will. Generators, water and plywood will go fast,” he said. “Gas lines will get longer sooner. You can save yourself a lot of headache and worry by being prepared.”

Peter J. Strauss is an attorney, captive insurance manager and author of several books, including most recently “The Business Owner’s Definitive Guide to Captive Insurance Companies.” For more information, visit: www.peterjstrauss.com.

Did Opening That Email Place Your Business In Legal Hot Water?

The email can arrive in your inbox cleverly disguised, appearing to come from your boss, a co-worker or some other person, business or organization you trust. However, by clicking on a link or attachment as instructed, you could be in for a headache.

You’ve just given cybercriminals access to your company’s data, and potentially put the business out of compliance with federal laws and regulations about protecting that data.

Phishing attacks are one of the most common security challenges individuals and businesses face when it comes to keeping information secure, says Beth Haddock (www.bethhaddock.com), author of Triple Bottom-Line Compliance: How to Deliver Protection, Productivity and Impact.

“The phisher’s goal is to steal sensitive and confidential information,” says Haddock, a compliance attorney who is also CEO of Warburton Advisers, a consulting firm that advises companies on compliance and ethical issues particularly when there’s a crisis.

That information could include Social Security numbers, credit card and bank account numbers, medical or educational records, dates of birth and mailing/email addresses.

That’s problematic because federal regulations may require that your business keep certain information secure. Just as an example, health providers are expected to safeguard the medical records of patients under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Such compliance issues can create unwelcome complications for businesses, which is why they need to be proactive in addressing phishing. Haddock says there are a few steps they can take to protect themselves, including:

•Educate employees. The first line of defense against phishing is employees, because they are the ones likely to be targeted. “Make them aware of the concerns and tell them to be suspicious of emails that offer them links with little explanation, or that ask for sensitive data, even if it appears to be coming from a trusted source,” Haddock says.

•Reassess who has access to data. Because employee mistakes are the most likely cause of a breach, retraining alone may not get the job done. A business or organization may want to take another look at who should have access to all that sensitive data, and make adjustments where possible.

•If a breach happens, take action. You can’t just ignore the data breach, Haddock says. Right away, your IT team needs to be notified so they can get to work handling the breach. At the same time, she says, it’s important to immediately contact your compliance officer or attorney so they can take appropriate steps for reporting the breach to the proper regulatory agencies.

“These ‘phishing expeditions’ from cybercriminals represent a serious challenge for businesses and for their compliance officers,” Haddock says. “It’s critical to be aware of the threat and to know that there are steps you can take to reduce your risk and avoid finding yourself out of compliance with regulations that govern your sensitive data.”

Beth Haddock is CEO and founder of Warburton Advisers. She has more than 20 years experience as a compliance and business executive. Her consulting firm provides sustainable governance and compliance solutions to leading international corporations, technology companies, and nonprofits. For more information, visit: www.bethhaddock.com

Three Ways Stress Takes a Toll on Your Body

Did the latest challenge at work bring on a tightening in your stomach? Does constant worry about a loved one’s health, make you physically ill yourself?

Everyone at some point feels the effects of stress. Not everyone deals with stress in the best way, though.

“Often stressed-out people seek relief through alcohol, tobacco or drugs, but that just makes matters worse,” says Richard Purvis, a health and wellness practitioner and author of Recalibrate: Six Secrets to Resetting Your Age (www.richardpurvisauthor.com). “Instead of relieving stress, those toxic substances tend to keep the body in a stressed state, causing even more physical problems.”

April is Stress Awareness Month, a good time to reflect on how the demands and anxieties of daily life put a strain not just on our minds, but on our bodies as well.

Stress, of course, is not always a bad thing. It does serve a positive purpose.

“It can keep us alert and prepares us to avoid danger,” Purvis said “But stress becomes a negative factor when a person faces continuous challenges without any time mixed in for relief or relaxation.”

As a result, he says, people become overworked, and stress-related anxiety and illness can occur. The strain leads them to suffer from such ailments as headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain and problems sleeping.

Purvis gives three examples of how stress can play havoc on our bodies include:

•Musculoskeletal system. When we experience stress, it’s natural for our muscles to tense up. “It’s the body’s way of guarding against injury and pain,” Purvis says. Usually, the muscles relax once the stressful event passes. But chronic stress keeps the muscles in a constant state of guardedness. “When muscles are taut and tense for long periods of time other reactions in the body are triggered,” he says. Chronic muscle tension in the shoulders, neck and head can lead to tension-type headaches and migraines.

•Respiratory system. Stress causes people to breathe harder. “That’s not a problem for most people,” Purvis says. “But if you suffer from asthma or a lung disease such as emphysema, getting essential oxygen can be difficult.”

He says some studies show that acute stress events— such as the death of a loved one— can trigger asthma attacks in which the airway between the nose and the lungs constrict. Also, rapid breathing associated with stress or hyperventilation can result in a panic attack in some people.

•Gastrointestinal system. Sometimes people who are stressed will eat much more than usual. Sometimes they will eat much less. Neither is healthy. “You can get heartburn or acid reflux if you eat more food or different types of food, or if you increase how much alcohol you drink or tobacco you use,” Purvis says. When you’re stressed, the brain sends alert sensations to the stomach. Your stomach can react with “butterflies,” nausea or pain. “Severe stress can cause vomiting, diarrhea or constipation,” he says. “If your stress becomes chronic, you might develop ulcers or severe stomach pain.”

So what’s to be done? Purvis points out that stress is a natural occurrence in life and happens to everyone.

“Since you can’t avoid your job, bills, or other life experiences, the best thing to do is learn to manage stress,” he says. “You won’t avoid stress entirely, but it is possible to minimize the effects by eating healthy, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and taking care of yourself in general.”

Richard Purvis, author of Recalibrate: Six Secrets to Resetting Your Age, is a health and wellness practitioner with more than 30 years of dedicated experience in nutrition, exercise, anti-aging and overall wellness. For more information, visit: www.richardpurvisauthor.com.